Setting His Sights

ABQjournal: Setting His Sights

Roberto Rosales/Journal

Scott David Benson, 12, practices his aim with a paintball gun at a shooting range on Wednesday, the first day of the three-day Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety’s “Cop Camp”.

During a three day “Cop Camp” sponsored by the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety, kids got to “practice their aim with paintball guns and used prop guns in a SWAT class…. Other camp activities include … booking and arrest procedures…. The camp was created to promote team building and unity among students and police.”

If you are bothered with military recruitment on college and high school campuses, note they are digging deeper (there is no difference between the military and police anymore).

I think it’s fine for the cops to work with kids and develop some “unity.” I think it’s wrong to train them to be cops/soldiers at ages 12 to 15. Not just cops — SWAT cops. mjh

PS: As an aside, this picture is about 4 by 6 in the paper, with a 72pt headline. There is a second picture that shows cops are soldiers now. Plus a 6 paragraph article with no byline. I could not find the article or second picture online. In an interesting coincidence, the bottom of that page (B2) features a billboard that uses a small child to recruit for Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department (couldn’t find that online, either).

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

ABQjournal: Environmental Law Plans to Be Discussed Monday in Rio Rancho By Tania Soussan, Journal Staff Writer

A congressional task force considering changes to one of the nation’s most important environmental laws will hold a hearing in Rio Rancho on Monday.

The National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, requires that major federal projects be reviewed for environmental and public health impacts.

The 35-year-old law also mandates public involvement and consideration of alternatives to minimize significant impacts.

Industry has argued that NEPA is a lengthy and cumbersome process that should be streamlined. …

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., the ranking member of the task force, said he thinks the law is working.

Environmentalists are worried Congress will weaken the federal law and cut out opportunities for public comment. …

The task force is scheduled to hear from 14 witnesses, including New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary Joanna Prukop, Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich, former Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley, a representative of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau and the vice president of Burlington Resources’ San Juan Division.

The hearing, which is open to the public, is at 10 a.m. at Rio Rancho High School, 301 Loma Colorado.

Only invited witnesses will be allowed to testify, but the public can submit written comments by e-mail to

Who Ya Gonna Believe? Vulcans or Enviros?

ABQjournal: Judge Endorses Uranium Mining Plan

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission judge has endorsed a mining company’s plan to extract uranium near two Navajo Nation communities in northwestern New Mexico.

Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining has raised concerns about possible ground-water pollution at four proposed mining sites near Church Rock and Crownpoint.

New Mexico-based Hydro Resources Inc. has asked the NRC for permits to inject chemicals into the ground to release uranium and pump the solution to the surface.

The anti-mining group is concerned about how the mining, called in-situ leaching, would affect an aquifer that supplies drinking water to surrounding communities.

The aquifer “is the sole source of drinking water for about 15,000 people, almost all of them Navajo,” said Doug Meiklejohn, an attorney for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center in Santa Fe, which represents the group.

Craig Bartels of Corrales, president of Hydro Resources, said his company would not pollute the ground water.

He accused the law center of milking the issue for fund-raising purposes.

The NRC staff and NRC Judge E. Roy Hawkens have ruled against the challenges to Hydro Resources’ plan, Bartels said.

“Any reasonable technical person who looks at this finds in our favor,” Bartels said. “So any reasonable person who looks at this has to say that what they’re presenting is not correct.”

ABQjournal: Otero Mesa Drilling Less Ominous Than Enviros Claim By Mark Mathis, executive director
Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy

When pondering complex, controversial issues, slippery rhetoric and hyperbole abound. Your best defense in such situations is logic.

On the issue of energy development on Otero Mesa using logic is a must, or you might be frightened into believing statements that defy reason. …

As commissioner of public lands, Lyons knows that today’s drilling technologies are far superior to the techniques used decades ago that resulted in a level of environmental impact that was unacceptable. …

Oil companies have the technology to do the job cleanly and safely (they do it every day across the state and nation)….

In the oil and natural gas business spills and leaks are a fact of life. While most operations run cleanly and smoothly, accidents do happen. No industry is perfect. The good news is, spilled oil is not a biohazard. When oil hits the ground it will biodegrade. Oil companies take the contaminated soil and farm in rows like a crop. Microbes and sometimes plant material are added to turn the soil into rich, productive ground that you could use in your garden. …

Who are you going to believe in this highly-charged debate over Otero Mesa? Trust your own reasoning skills. Better yet, don’t rely on my words or those of Capra. Do a little research on your own.

Amen to thinking for yourself. I notice Mr Mathis says drilling for oil is so much cleaner than it used to be. But, if you can fertilize your garden with oil, how was it a problem before — and a problem, no more. mjh

ABQjournal: Wolf Is At Rancher’s Door

FOR THE cultures, economic systems, communities and children in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) there are, unfortunately, powerful media and outreach campaigns shaping “public opinion,” and passing for it.

To these extremely populous but misinformed segments of society, the BRWRA consists of … an empty slate of pristine wilderness, and a few disgruntled ranchers. In actuality this is an ancient agricultural area inhabited for more than 1,000 years. …

The beauty and bounty of nature is a tribute to the historical local communities here which ought to be recognized, honored and preserved for the great value of the effect their culture has on the preservation of biodiversity, even if it takes an amendment to the EPA to achieve this. …

The loss of biodiversity that will result from the ongoing process of cultural genocide befalling these communities is not properly understood by the masses. Although this type of degradation is documented by scientists (Ed Medina and Dr. John Rinne of the USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station), this important information is ignored by the wolf program. …

Buyouts and compensation are not compatible with the preservation of the human cultures or the biodiversity.

Another major impact? so far unaddressed by the program? is the enormous amount of fear, terror and stress it engenders. The existing levels of government agency created fear, terror and stress should be unacceptable anywhere in the world, and certainly reaches totalitarian levels of callous and aggressive government heavy-handedness toward a local population. …

Is this what cultural genocide feels like?
Blue, Arizona

Notice the repeated use of “biodiversity” here to mean preserving ranching as a lifestyle. Isn’t it ironic to be pro-biodiversity but anti-wolf?

I hear one message in all three of these: trust the people who have the most to gain by lying to themselves. Logic can be used to deceive. mjh

N.M.’s Emissions Heavy

ABQjournal: Study: N.M.’s Emissions Heavy; State Is Double National Average By John Fleck, Journal Staff Writer

New Mexicans emit twice as much greenhouse gases per capita as the national average, according to a new study commissioned by state government.

The gases — from power plants, oil and gas production, cars and farms — are implicated in global climate change, and the new data will form the basis for a statewide initiative to curb the emissions, state Environment Secretary Ron Curry said Tuesday. …

According to the inventory, 37 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electric generation plants; 22 percent comes from oil and gas production, and 16 percent comes out of the tailpipes of cars and trucks. Agriculture accounts for 6 percent of the emissions, with methane belched or exhaled by cows among the largest agricultural sources.

[mjh: and the other 19%?]

Ich bin ein Westsider

ABQjournal: Power Project Ugly to Some; PNM Lines Won’t Be Underground By Aurelio Sanchez, Journal Staff Writer

Residents on Paradise Boulevard are upset about “unsightly” overhead power lines that Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to install along a 1.2 mile section of the road.

They’d like the power lines to be installed underground. …

But a PNM spokesman said to place the lines underground would double the estimated $225,000 cost of the project, a cost PNM would pass on to Bernalillo County residents. …

Weaver said neighbors are upset about the plans, especially coming on the heels of the neighborhood association receiving a grant to landscape Paradise Boulevard. He said neighbors also have never been shown cost assessments.

“Our feeling is that as there is new development in northwest Albuquerque, the developers should be asked to help pay for the cost of underground lines,” Weaver said.

Brown responded, “We do understand the concerns about visual impact.”

Brown said that in order for the lines to be placed underground, the governing jurisdiction? in this case the Bernalillo County Commission? would have to require PNM to do so.

“Then the entity requiring it would either pay the difference in the project costs up front, or PNM could pass the costs along to customers within that jurisdiction,” Brown said.

If the cost is passed on to approximately 45,000 customers in Bernalillo County, it would up individual bills by about 25 cents to 30 cents per month for a unspecified number of years.

Brown noted that in Rio Rancho, PNM customers are paying $1.80 a month extra for three years to pay for several underground power line projects the city required of PNM.

I’m with you, West Side. Power lines are gawd-awful and we need to keep them from going up in the air.

As a reader of the Abq Journal’s paper edition, I’d never have seen this story. The Journal deemed it relevant just to the West Side edition. However, kudos to KOB-4 and KRQE-13 for making this a top story last night.

The Journal doesn’t note, as TV did, that some residents claim PNM is contractually committed to underground lines.

It’s time to recognize this as a quality of life issue. I know we can’t pull all the lines down, but we can resolve never to put up another and to replace over time all those awful wires. I’d gladly pay extra to preserve/restore the vista.

Hang tough, West Side! mjh

oh, say, can you see?

Damned Annoying

ABQjournal: Letters to Outlook

Fireworks are not bought or used for the purpose of annoying neighbors. And, for the most part, fireworks are annoying only to those who wish to be annoyed.

The reason for fireworks is to show exuberance. … We set off fireworks to celebrate that we live in a prosperous nation. We celebrate liberty and justice. …

Yes, I know you can hear them going off. You can hear many other things that will annoy you if you so desire ? trains, planes and freeway traffic.

There are always people weeping to the city council about how annoying fireworks are to themselves and their dogs. They talk about how their dog shivers under the bed. I do not make any points with them when I ask, “So what about thunderstorms? You have to speak to a higher authority than the city council about thunderstorms scaring your dog, don’t you?”

My advice: Get your dog earmuffs or doggie downers and don’t go to the city council….

Michael Swickard
Radio talk-show host
Las Cruces

The Fourth of July was weeks ago and, yet, every day I hear fireworks nearby. This is beyond exuberance and celebration. It is pure selfishness. The callous Michael Swickard, who doesn’t realize “radio talk-show host” is as much an honorific as “high school dropout,” spins the new American mantra: “don’t like what I’m doing? Screw you then.” What a bogus comparison of fireworks to thunderstorms, designed to distract from personal responsibility.

Mr Swickard, have one hell of a fine time on July 4th. But if you or anyone else shoot off fireworks long before or after, don’t kid yourself with notions of liberty and justice. Your behavior is simply selfish and antisocial. As is your attack on those you harm. mjh

Update 8/3/05 – ABQjournal: Las Cruces Banning Noisy Fireworks

NEPA Hearing, 10:00am on Monday, August 1st in Rio Rancho

Take Action: Stand Up for NEPA

NEPA is the guarantee that Americans affected by a federal action will get the best information about its impacts, a choice of good alternatives, and the right to have their voice heard before the government makes a final decision.

A Congressional task force will be holding a hearing in Rio Rancho, New Mexico about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the primary federal law that gives you the chance to be heard on, and informed about, federal projects and actions that may harm your air, water and public lands, before ? not after ? a final decision is made.

The NEPA Task Force, convened by California Congressman Richard Pombo, chair of the House Resources Committee, is holding the fourth of six field hearings at 10:00am on Monday, August 1st in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, at the Rio Rancho High School located at 301 Loma Colorado, Rio Rancho, NM 87124. It will cover the role of NEPA in the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Transportation and lunch will be provided for those coming from northern New Mexico. Contact Bryan (505) 988-9126 x157 or Jim (505) 758-3874 for more information. In Albuquerque, contact Sarah (505) 243-7767

You can have your voice represented if you take action by July 29th.